Blair Schaffer experienced the highs and lows during her collegiate career as a basketball player for the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs. She was with the team at their highest points and at their lowest.
She was a member of the Lady Bulldogs when they beat UConn at the buzzer with the shot seen around the world by Morgan William. She was with them during their heartbreaking losses to South Carolina in the SEC Championship and the National Championship games.
“And when you lose to them three times, you’re kind of over it at that point,” Schaffer told Winona Christian students last week during a special chapel service at the school.
But, before she ever became a bulldog and before she became a Starkville High School Yellowjacket, she learned who God was, is and, who He’s always been during one of the hardest moments of her life. Schaffer told the story of playing with a traveling team when she was in the seventh grade in Texas, where the Schaffers are from originally.
She said she was in a hotel room with her dad, Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs Women’s Basketball Head Coach Vic Schaffer, when he got a call and her dad went silent.
“And, if you know anything about my dad, you know he’s never silent,” Schaffer said. “But, he didn’t say anything he just listened. At the other end of the call, someone said ‘Hey, your son was just hurt. What do you want us to do? He told them, ‘Take him wherever you would take your child.’ We were, however, many states away, we didn’t know what was in East Texas.”
Schaffer told the story of how her twin brother, Logan, endured a traumatic brain injury after crashing into the water during a wakeboarding accident at Frontier Camp.
“He said he told the people he was with ‘My head is hurting, I’m just going to take a break.’ And he went to the boat. Once he got there, he threw up and fell backward into the water.”
She said her brother had to be airlifted to the East Texas Medical Center where he had to undergo surgery on his brain. Schaffer said after her dad received the phone call, he asked her if she wanted to stay in Ohio or go back to Texas.
“I told him we were going back to Texas, why would I not be with my brother that’s crazy,” she said. “Then, after my dad got off the phone, he grabbed my hand, and we prayed.”
“The doctor said one of [Logan’s] blood vessels had pulled apart from his brain, and he had bleeding on the brain,” she said. “There are millions of vessels in your brain, and the doctor went in and found the one that pulled away. It’s a miracle that God led the doctor to that one.” Schaffer said as they performed surgery, Logan was in a coma.
She said after the surgery, the family continued speaking to Logan while he was in a coma. Her mom asked him “Logan, if you can hear me, give me a sign, please. Do something.”
“And my brother raised his hand and gave us a thumbs up sign, and he dropped his hand. It must’ve taken all of his strength to do that because he immediately dropped his hand,” she said.
After being in a coma, her twin brother was transferred out of ICU and into a rehab facility. She said there’s one in Houston that’s one of the best in the nation called the TIRR Memorial.
“My parents went through everything, and they couldn’t get him in,” she said.
But, the room opened up after someone left.
“There are five levels to this hospital and each one is for a different thing and the fifth floor is for brain injuries,” she said. “My brother couldn’t do anything for himself. He went back to the infant stage. Imagine a seventh-grade boy with the mind of a two-year-old.”
She said her brother had to relearn everything.
“We had to feed him, we had to bathe him, we had to dress him, he couldn’t do anything for himself.” She said before the accident her brother loved to play guitar and afterward, he couldn’t.
“In his mind, he thought he was the old Logan, but he wasn’t. In his mind, he could still play like before but when he tried, he couldn’t do it and he cried,” she said. “There were a lot of times that he just felt like he couldn’t do it, and we had to be his backbone.”
Schaffer said a random preacher told her family that Logan would be in the hospital less than 40 days. “We didn’t know this man. And you know 40 is the magic number in the Bible, miracles happened after 40 days. But, Logan couldn’t do anything for himself.”
So, she said it was taken with a grain of salt. But, Logan was released from TIRR on the 39th day. Two months after the ordeal happened.
She said her brother had two more surgeries after that and now had a titanium plate in his head.
“And you best believe when we go through the airport, it goes off every time and he has to explain what happened to TSA,” Schaffer said laughing.
Schaffer said the ordeal brought her family closer together.
“That’s why my dad is a family man now. He’ll stay around after a game and talk with fans because he loves being around family.”
She also told about how the Schaffers had to relocate during her junior year of high school after her dad accepted the head coach job at Mississippi State.
“I went from a graduating class of 1500 to a class of 300. I went from a team that was really good to a team that was not so good.”
She said the transition was hard, but it made her a better player.
“I was triple-teamed every night. It made my jump ball better, it made my release quicker.” She said after signing to play with her dad, she went from 40 minutes on the floor to less than six her freshman year, and it frustrated her.
So much so, she told her dad and her head coach, that she wanted to transfer out.
“I told him I know I could be a better player and play like I want somewhere else.” But her dad said no. “He told me to go to work and to work on my weaknesses. So I did.”
Schaffer told students that although we may plan out everything, God takes our plans and changes them to his plans, and it can be frustrating. But, they had to learn that if they put everything in God’s hands, He’ll work it out.
“I started my junior year, not in regular season play, but I started during the NCAA Tournament play. After the first game, we were staggered on offense, so my dad decided to change up the starting five, and we thought he was crazy,” she said. “But, I got my first, and I scored 21 points and people thought I was a fluke. So, I started again, and I averaged 16 points and people began asking ‘Why has she been on the bench, where have you been hiding her?’”
She told them if they want anything out of life they have to work at it.
Schaffer ended her speech by telling students that her faith journey hasn’t always been easy, but when she learned how to give everything to God, she learned who holds the future and who holds her hand.
“I know everyone wants to live their best life, but with God, you are living your best life. I know it’s cool to be on trend, but living for God is the trend,” Schaffer said.